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Forums  >  Film-making  >  The Gold Diggers
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at 12:33, 9 Mar 2007
Posts: 0
The Gold Diggers
Dear Sally,

First, I’m sorry to say that I have not yet seen “Yes”. But I shall remedy that soon.

About 20 years ago I caught “The Gold Diggers” on Channel Four. This, you realise, was back when Channel Four was half-decent and would often show edgy, non-mainstream or subtitled films. Sadly, those days are long gone. But I digress. Although it’s many years since I viewed “The Gold Diggers”, and can remember little more than a number of striking monochrome images and an interesting soundtrack, the film made a big impression on me. It had a unique atmosphere that I found very compelling. For years I’ve wondered if it will ever be made available on DVD, and have searched on eBay for potential VHS copies (did Channel Four ever release it to video?). But in vain.

And now, tonight, with a bit of Googling, I stumble across this forum which you actively participate in. Which is kind of amazing – the power of the internet, eh? So here I am, slightly incredulous of the fact that I am actually addressing the director of a film that has kind of haunted me for two decades, to ask you this….

Before I grow old and die (hopefully not for another 40 years or so) is there any chance that I may ever see “The Gold Diggers” again in any format in any corner of this planet?

I did actually once read in a newsgroup that you had personally chosen to withdraw the film. Any truth in that? I don’t know a single person (even amongst my old film student friends) who can recall ever seeing this movie.

When “Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach” is available on DVD, but “The Gold Diggers” isn’t, I can’t help feeling that it ain’t right. When was the last time you watched your feature debut, and how do you feel about it now, I wonder?

at 11:28, 24 Apr 2007
Posts: 3
Gold Diggers
Ach. No reply as yet. I guess Miss Potter (i.e. Sally,ée Zellweger) is very busy on her next project, and this forum isn't as active as I'd hoped. No matter - I'll just sit tight and pray that "The Gold Diggers" sees the light of DVD one day. I actually have an old poster for this movie, publicising its 12-day run at the NFT. It's in a frame, keeping company with three other film posters which I then rotate every few months (the other posters, incidentally, are for "Blow Out", "Freebie and the Bean" and "Q - The Winged Serpent" - kind of a mixed bag, eh?).

Well, must get back to work. This Philip Glass music that's currently looping on this website is very pretty - must check the whole piece out one day.

at 15:37, 11 May 2007
Posts: 3
Gold Diggers at the NFT!!!
Well, here I am again on what seems to be my own private "Gold Diggers" thread. Anyway, I just found out some really exciting news. "The Gold Diggers" will be screened at the NFT on London's South Bank later this month!!!

It's screening on Tuesday 22nd May at 8.40pm, and then a second time on Sunday 27th May at 4.00pm, as part of a Julie Christie season.

Looks like my wish to revisit this film for the first time since the 1980s will be fulfilled in just a couple of weeks. And on the big screen too! I'm pretty chuffed.

(Note: the NFT seems to have been renamed "BFI Southbank". But I will probably always think of it as the NFT, much like I continue to think of Telecom Tower as "The Post Office Tower")

sally potter
at 13:29, 14 May 2007
Posts: 193
Sorry you have waited for this reply for a while, but I was amused to read your one-way correspondence.

I last watched The Gold Diggers when it was projected as part of a retrospective of my work in Taiwan. To my great interest and gratification the audience there told me it was the favourite of all my feature films. One of the reasons for my pleasure is that for years I was haunted by The Gold Diggers….for different reasons than you. When it came out it was my first experience of being mercilessly attacked by the press, often in a very personal and cruel way. The film seemed to trigger burning rage and resentment in most of the UK critics. A non-linear narrative, an all-female crew, Big Ideas, Julie Christie in a long raincoat wandering about asking existential questions, long shots of snowy wastes… them it was an incomprehensible mishmash...a sort of structuralist feminist hell... whereas to its makers (the film was co-written with Rose English and Lindsay Cooper) it was an aesthetic, political and metaphysical adventure…a detective story where the only corpse was Old Hollywood and the detective was a beauty in a huge crinoline….

For years it seemed I would never be able to make another film. Ten years, in fact, during which, following endless rejections, I eventually made a short (The London Story) -financed using my American Express card- whilst I trailed the world with draft after draft of Orlando under my arm and accumulated a folder of rejections (that woman who made The Gold Diggers! Aargh!). Eventually we started filming Orlando saddled with such huge personal debts that bailiffs were knocking on my door during the shoot.

This is the background which led to me withdrawing the film from circulation. Perhaps they will forget about it, I thought, and let me get on with my life’s work again.

As it happens, it doesn’t work this way. It even got mentioned (perjoratively, again)in some reviews of YES, and may well stir old rage for any critic from that era who mentions it for the season this month at the NFT. But the beauty of cinema as a medium is that a piece of works endures through time in the memory of individuals in quite different ways. Yours, for example.

Furthermore, a film may discover a wider audience many years later. In Taiwan the audience response helped me to appreciate the film's meditative and understated qualities and remember my ambitions for it at the time, though I still cringed at some of the clumsier intercutting. But I found I could, at last, look back at my younger filmmaking self with some compassion and even admiration, after feeling only angst about the film's reception for so many years.

Of course the response to the film was never all negative. It has always had its fans and been the subject of many theses. For a film that has been under wraps for so long, The Gold Diggers has been written about a lot. There have been many requests for it to see the light again, and, yes, we are in discussions to release the film on DVD next year.
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